The emotional and financial benefits of charitable giving (including tax deductions) are well-documented, but the money and goods you give mean very little unless they produce tangible results. Unfortunately, not all charities serve the public good efficiently. Some even make national news for less-than-noble activities, such as misused funds, overpaid CEOs, and ineffective programs. Potential donors should do thorough research prior to giving their hard-earned dollars to a charity that may be under-performing or ripe for scandal.
The fact that charitable giving can help reduce your tax burden is well known, especially if you’re in a high bracket. But the benefits of giving extend far beyond tax breaks.
Of course, giving can be a challenge – especially when money is tight. After all, your income could just as easily go toward a college savings fund for your kids, a much-needed vacation, or even a new pair of shoes. But whether you’re interested in the tax benefits or have altruistic motives – or a little of both – you can end up getting back a lot more than you give when you donate valuable items, cold hard cash, or even your time to your favorite causes. In fact, the emotional, social, psychological, and financial benefits of charitable giving often outweigh the satisfaction of splurging on yourself or your family.
No matter who you are or what you do for a living, you have a limited amount of money, time, and energy in each day. Therefore, on a daily basis, we all have to make decisions about how we use our limited resources to solve our problems and dilemmas.
Surprisingly, one of the best things you can do to maximize your time and resources is to worry less about making the right decisions. Some decisions in life are worth spending a lot of time, money, and emotional energy to come up with the best possible solution for, but the consequences of other decisions aren’t important enough to warrant the same level of effort.
Freelancing sounds like the burnt-out worker’s dream come true. Freelancers are able to set their own hours, choose their own jobs, and be their own employers. Unlike some type of fantasy, however, freelancing is indeed very real work that comes with many challenges, in addition to its obvious benefits.
A wise step into freelancing requires a careful self-examination of your personality, strengths, and weaknesses to ensure that self-employment is right for you. Before you take the leap into freelancing, make sure you’ve done your homework so that you can be successful and self-actualized in your endeavors.
By Mary McCoy
We are all familiar with the pounding heart, heavy breath, and nervous sweat associated with frightening situations. If your brain is functioning properly, fear is a natural instinct that informs you of danger and prepares your body to respond appropriately to a threat.
Sometimes, though, the wiring in highly evolved human brains can malfunction and cause fearful responses when no real threats are present. In turn, inappropriate fear responses can trigger many negative social, emotional, and financial consequences. In order to live responsibly and fully, it’s important to understand the source of your fears, respect your real and perceived threats, and mitigate inappropriate fear responses.
Experts have long recommended happy, stable marriages as the ideal setting for child-rearing. Unfortunately, half of all American marriages continue to end in divorce, and many of these breakups involve children. These statistics don’t even include the relationships between people who never married, but still had kids prior to the dissolution of their romantic partnership. Whatever your opinion is about the state of American marriages and relationships, it’s hard to argue against the need for consistency, stability, and effective communication between parents for the best possible child outcomes. In terms of child development, research has even indicated that a successful co-parenting partnership between exes is preferred to a two-parent home with ineffective or hostile communication between partners.
If you’ve ever pursued an ambitious goal, you’ve probably noticed that your resolve starts to wane after about four to six weeks. Even savvy goal-setters run into problems after a month of resolve, but the statistics are worse for those who set nebulous goals for their lives. In fact, a 2007 survey conducted by British psychologist Richard Wiseman found that 88% of resolutions end in failure, and that backsliding on resolutions usually begins just a few weeks after the start of the goal.
But you don’t have to let your resolutions and goals fall by the wayside. Before you abandon them in the face of challenges and mistakes, consider redoubling your efforts for successful goal achievement.
The dissolution of a marriage is an emotionally painful experience. The last thing you want to do is add financial troubles and complicated legal wrangling to the mix. Between attorneys’ fees and the expenses that come with splitting one home into two, too many divorces result in an obliteration of assets and tie up future earnings in the process.
However, if you believe you can work with your spouse toward an amicable split, you may find in divorce mediation an effective alternative to a traditional litigious proceeding. It can reduce the financial and emotional impact of divorce on you, your ex, and your children.
Social responsibility is the idea that human beings – either acting as individuals or corporations – are obligated to act for the benefit of society at large. With such a broad definition, it’s easy to see that people can manifest social responsibility in a variety of activities, such as utilizing green energy, volunteering at the local soup kitchen, or carpooling to work.
As uncomfortable and unpleasant as it is to hear about human trafficking, it is a social problem that’s alive and kicking in communities across the United States. And while no one truly wants to hear the horrific examples of human rights violations, it’s vitally important that Americans become more aware of the problem.
Awareness, as painful as it may be, is the first step towards action and social responsibility. Based on statistics and what’s known about the rise of human trafficking in the United States, it’s likely that trafficking is occurring in your hometown without your awareness.
In May 2013, consumers looked on with horror when news agencies reported the deaths of 1,130 Bangladeshi garment workers in a factory collapse. But unfortunately, for every high-profile report of exploited garment workers, there are thousands of untold stories of abuse within the fashion and clothing industry.
The supply chains of American-worn clothing are complex and involve workers in many countries and many phases of textile production. As a result, many consumers – even consumers who are socially conscious – are likely wearing items that are made by exploited workers and modern-day slaves.
By Mary McCoy
Depending on your outlook and personality, the thought of New Year’s resolutions may fill you with either dread or excitement. People who approach resolutions with dread likely recall the disappointment of unmet goals as the source of their frustration; those who approach resolutions with excitement, however, have usually figured out how to set goals that are attainable and satisfying for the long haul.
If you have lofty ambitions for the coming year but are worried about setting yourself up for disappointment, take some time to figure out how to create resolutions that will work for you. You’ll find that reasonable goal-setting can propel you toward the future you desire.
Whether you’re in the market to sell your home or simply to beautify it, don’t underestimate the value of an updated kitchen. The qualities most likely to catch the eyes of potential buyers include matching appliances, pristine counter tops, fresh paint, and, most importantly, updated cabinetry. Outdated, dingy, or lackluster cabinets can make any kitchen look stale and unfinished, but beautifully finished cabinets can make all the difference in the world to its overall look.
Renovation is never easy, but thankfully there are several options available to help you along the way. Refinishing, replacing, or refacing your cabinets each represent different price points and require different levels of exertion, but all of them can bring a drab, sleepy kitchen back to life.
A home is only as beautiful as the quality of its paint job – but, of course, that’s bad news if you have dingy paint throughout your house.
Fortunately, it’s relatively simple and inexpensive to update the interior of your home with fresh paint within just a few days, or even hours. If you’ve never taken on a home painting project, be sure to stock up on supplies and acquaint yourself with the proper technique before beginning. You may also want to enlist a friend for extra help and pleasant company as you roll a beautiful, fresh coat of paint onto your walls.
Popcorn ceiling is the bumpy-looking ceiling treatment home builders used from the 1950s to the 1980s to improve acoustics and mask ceiling flaws. Also known as “cottage cheese ceiling” and “stucco ceiling,” the popcorn finish started falling out of favor in the late 1980s and early 1990s because some formulations contained asbestos.
Disdain for popcorn ceiling gained momentum in the 2000s when homeowners started to acknowledge these ceilings are ugly, outdated, and tend to attract dust and grime. Many homeowners who live in older properties are now hiring contractors to remove the dingy texture from their homes.